It’s that time again. A new year is before us, and we think of all the terrific things we want to accomplish: get organized, lose weight, exercise more…resolutions we spout in January and then beat ourselves up about when we’ve abandoned them or are far from our goals later in the year.
But this year, my guiding resolution is all about me. My goal is to be selfish. It’s just like what they tell you on the airplane: put your oxygen mask on first, then help others. If you can’t breathe, you’re not going to be able to help anyone else. So this year, it’s all about me, me, me. Mom’s oxygen mask comes first. I’m not going to neglect my family, but I’m going to give myself some grace, let myself relax, and give myself some freedom and flexibility.
As they say, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” so spoiler alert: I’m hoping these selfish resolutions will make me a better mom:
Stay in better touch with my friends.
This one doesn’t seem selfish, but it is. When I’m in regular contact with the people in my life who have seen me through singledom, marriage, momhood, and more, I feel better. And keeping up with what’s going on in their lives also picks me up. We have busy lives and are spread across cities and states, so it’s not always easy to connect. But I like to cheer their victories and support them through trouble spots. It’s part of who I am. Need someone to help you hide a body at 3:00 A.M. with no questions asked? I’m THAT friend. It’s in my DNA. Letting myself slip away from the people who have been with me through the good and bad because life gets in the way, hurts me. It’s time to make time for them because those friendships make me better.
Don’t sacrifice my ideals to fit into a tribe.
We’ve all heard it: find your tribe. The problem: tribes may not be where you fit. I found myself in the midst of two tribes last year. But I didn’t keep my eyes open to the obvious signs that I didn’t fit. I was so happy to belong that I neglected to stick to my ideals or heed the warning signs that I really wasn’t where I belonged. When each of the tribes failed me, I was shocked and wondered what I’d done wrong. Stepping back, I realized that the nagging voice I’d been ignoring was my inner voice. When your gut tells you to walk away, walk away. Your definition of tribe may not match theirs, and your principals are more important than the tribe.
Stop worrying about “what ifs.”
I am the queen of walking through “what if” scenarios. I can examine a situation from every angle and find options to address each outcome. I like to be prepared and don’t like to be surprised. I want to plan and determine what would be best for scenario options A, B, C, to Z, thinking through each and then branching off with other options and responses ad nauseum. But at some point, we can’t predict what’s ahead, we can only live our lives and deal with things as they come up. Worrying about what might come up, what might happen, and how I should respond/what I should do next, doesn’t help.
Spend time on myself.
That’s a huge mama no-no, right? We can’t dedicate time to ourselves or put ourselves first! Isn’t that secretly scrawled in the hidden mom rules that are whispered to us in the middle of the night when we’re struggling with a crying baby or an inconsolable child?? Wrong. It’s what we tell ourselves we need to do, but rather than make us better moms, it wears us down and makes us less than who we are. We’re so tired that we can’t function, and then we break down. No one needs that, especially us moms. So this year, I will make time for myself, even if that means saying “no” to requests or shushing demands, especially those that I’m shouting in my own head.
Say “no” more often.
Like every other mom, I feel the pressure to say “yes.” “Yes” to a play date. “Yes” to a volunteer request. “Yes” to another social engagement, birthday party, or outing. “Yes” to whatever activity the latest request is, and “yes” to that work assignment that I really don’t have to take on. But all of those yeses add up to more than I can handle, so I acrobatically stumble from one thing to another, putting more on my plate than I should. Back to the above: we’re so tired that we can’t function, and then we break down. I’m saying “no” to that. Or at least I’m going to try.
Say “yes” more often.
Think this doesn’t fit with what I just said? Oh, but it does. You see, I often say “no” to things I should say “yes” to. A last-minute invite for lunch or happy hour, but I have a long to-do list or can’t imagine dealing with traffic to get there? That time away may refresh my mind, give me a break, and let me connect with a friend. So rather than say “no,” I’m going to beaver dam the to-do list, smile through the traffic, and go. A request for a stay-at-home day versus the museum outing I had planned? The museum will be there, but a chance to spend a morning in pajamas, hanging out playing dinosaurs versus Star Wars Imperials? Those days won’t be around much longer.
Walk away from drama.
“Not my circus, not my monkeys.” I refuse to let myself get sucked into other people’s crazy. Life is too short, and frankly, I’m too old. This is a lesson I’ve always followed, but when I fell into the wrong tribes, their circus monkeys sucked me in. I watched crazy grow, sprawl, and consume people, including me. And I spent way too much precious time on drama that never should have been. I have enough circus fun in my own life—I don’t need a ticket to more. So I’m going to politely decline getting involved with anyone else’s monkey business.
Indulge in self care.
Massages, manicures, pedicures, facials, haircuts, reading a book with no pictures, going to the bathroom by myself…whatever it is that makes me feel pampered and refreshed. I’m awful at this. Before I was a mom, manis/pedis were a regular event, but I can’t tell you the last time someone other than me put polish on my toes. I was given bought myself a massage/facial/pedicure gift certificate for Mother’s Day. In 2014. I finally used it last year, taking three visits over 10 months to fit it in. Two other massage gift certificates have been sitting in a drawer for more than year. They’re getting redeemed in 2017, and I may splurge on more. It really is OK to spend time (and money) on myself every once in a while.
Here’s to a selfish 2017! No idea if I’ll be able to stick to my selfish goals, but I promise I’m going to try. And if you catch me tripping up, please remind me to be more selfish, say “no” (or “yes”), and to stay in my own circus. May you make time for you and give yourself a bit of grace this year as well!